These are strange, unsettling times for the University of Florida.
The Gators need themselves a football coach.
They offer a terrific job. Maybe one of the best jobs in the country.
Uh, right? (nervous laugh)
Well, we'll soon find out. Maybe this isn't such the give-my-right-arm-for job we all think it is. Maybe the brand has been scuffed up and dented so badly by previous coaches Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain that the Gators simply can't have their pick of the litter anymore....
MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.
It's a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.
And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.
The Bucs won a football game. They beat the Dolphins, 30-20. That's two victories in a row. That's kind of a big deal....
MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.
The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.
In fact, the best part of Sunday's game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirring rendition of the national anthem by J Rome, a U.S. Air Force veteran and winner of the ABC show Duets. Toss in a giant flag that covered the entire football field and a flyover by two F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing Hill Air Force Base Utah and we were ready for a great day of football....
In the crowd-pleasing sports-talk of game of "Who Would You Rather Have?'' there might not be a more perfect match-up than this.
Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.
Both are defensive tackles. Both went to, what were at the time, Big 12 schools. Both were college All-Americans. Both are 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds.
And they were taken on back-to-back picks in the 2010 draft, both going to lousy football teams....
11/15/17 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop showed up at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.
So how's the big guy doing?
Don't know. Don't care.
Sorry, that's wasn't meant to be mean. Bishop is a great goalie, a good guy and a class act. He helped turn the Lightning into the winning organization it is today.
But these days, it's all about the goalie the Lightning kept. Not the one it traded....
Jon Gruden to the Bucs?
Sounds like one sloppy, happy mess.
It would be one part delicious, one part debacle and all parts completely compelling.
I can see it now.
The Bucs season ends Dec. 31. They could hire Gruden before we finish off Auld Lang Syne.
What a way to start the new year.
The fans would love it. The ticket office would love. The media would love it....
TAMPA — The Bucs won a football game Sunday. After losing five in a row, that's a pretty big deal.
And don't you dare take the air of it just because it was an ugly win against a second-rate Jets team with a third-rate Josh McCown at quarterback. Who cares? A win is a win. How they won and who they beat doesn't mean a darn thing....
TAMPA — The last time the Bucs won a football game was two years ago. Actually, before Sunday, it was Oct. 1. But in the NFL, when you go more than a month without a victory, it always feels worse than it really is. Five-game losing streaks are rare in the NFL. To win a game after that long of a drought calls for parades and champagne. At the very least, it calls for some smiles and loud music in the locker room. So that was the scene in the home locker room on Sunday following Tampa Bay's 15-10 victory against the Jets. With that in mind, Times columnist Tom Jones hands out his grades for Sunday's game....
TAMPA — Know what might be the most sobering part of the Bucs' disappointing season?
We're only halfway through it.
Doesn't it feel like the Bucs already have played like 14 games?
Ugh. Eight more games to go.
While Bucs players are saying all the things they are supposed to say — one game at a time, we can still get back into this thing, we're not giving up — it is hard, if not full-blown impossible, to see this season ending in anything other than a 10th straight season of missing the playoffs....
Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the 2017-18 college basketball season.
The top five
My picks for the nation's top five teams:
1. Duke: As if the Blue Devils weren't loaded enough, they add four sensational freshmen in Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Wendell Carter, plus top high-school recruit Marvin Bagley, a big man out of Phoenix who can shoot and might end up being Duke's best player....
Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the first half of the NFL season.
Pizza Wars! Sounds like it should be a TV show on Food Network. First, the Papa John guy blames company losses on the NFL and the anthem protests, slamming league commissioner Roger Goodell in the process. Then ProFootballTalk points out that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who currently has a little feud going with Goodell, is buddies with Papa John and owns a bunch of Papa John franchises and might have been behind the whiny rant. Then Pizza Hut joins in to say its sales are fine. And then frozen pizza DiGiorno comes off the top rope and makes fun of Papa Johns, who also has to ask that Neo-Nazis don't eat his pizza. Tell me you wouldn't watch this show....
NEW ORLEANS — People lose jobs over games like this in a season like this.
The mob watches a game like the Bucs' 30-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday, and the knee-jerk reaction is to grab pitchforks, torches and a handful of pink slips.
They want the coach fired. They want the general manager fired. They want the owners to sell the team and be on the first plane out of town. Forget cleaning house; they want the house doused with paint thinner and burned to the ground....
NEW ORLEANS — What a rotten day in New Orleans. Call it the Big Queasy. Another drubbing. Another season down the tubes, or so it would appear.
It was a crazy day. There were loads of injuries, including yet another (same) injury to Jameis Winston's shoulder and a scary one to Bucs defensive end Will Gholston. There was a fight. And mistakes aplenty....
The Bucs head to New Orleans, and it won't be a Big Easy. At 2-5 and losers of four in a row, their season is in jeopardy.
By Sunday night, they will have new hope, or we can pick a graveyard plot to bury this 2017 season.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The Bucs were offseason darlings, the chic pick to make the playoffs. They've gone from up-and-coming to down-and-outing in a month....
Dear Scott Stricklin,
Guess being athletic director at Florida isn't always such a fun job, huh?
You're coming off a pretty rough week, firing Jim McElwain as your football coach and all. You did the right thing, but it wasn't easy handing a pink slip to a guy who was respectable 22-12 in less than three seasons. That took guts....